Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

New York Times: Science Not About Certainty

arroba Email

From this article:

Science is about probability, not certainty. And the persisting uncertainties in climate science leave room for argument. What is a realistic estimate of how much temperatures will rise? How severe will the effects be? Are there tipping points beyond which the changes are uncontrollable?

Does this mean we can wait for a retraction of all of the NYT’s “Evolution is a fact, fact fact!” histrionics?  I’m not holding my breath.

This is a pathetic mantra used to try and take away the stigma attached to various political doctrines which masquerade as scientific theories and consensus; theories that have now been revealed to be based on shaky ground to begin with. Things like Darwinism and AGW- as well as less well understood, and propogated things like the theory of Dark Matter- are highly speculative - based upon speculative physics, based opinions based upon opinions- So in an attempt to justify the massive wealth of commitments to these platforms the effort is to try and justify shaky science by claiming it is not necessary for it to be about exactness. Nonsense. However, as the climategate emails have proved-- these institutional scientists certainly have taken this liberal attitude and modus operundi to heart. Apparently the philosophy is “when the facts and reasoning don’t support your theory- then to hell with facts and reasoning.” At any rate, there is a more important philosophical trick underpinning this pathetic excuse for bad science- and that is the implied notion that the REASONING- the essentail edifice of all science- does not need to be about certainty. This is UTTERLY false. Whether we find out reasoning leading to a deductive or inductive conclusion we can be as certain as our axioms that our conclusions have been reached in a certain manner. In other words while we may not have enough data to know for sure various thing- we can atleast follow that data with certainty based on the reasoning we use. Yes, it is often the case that you do not have enough information to make an absolute certain decision about a question, problem or hypothesis one way over another- BUT the reasoning that leads you towards one or the other possibility MUST follow a rational and reasonable system that gives you at least some certainty- otherwise your effort to ascertain or discover truth or reality is totally pointless and in vain. For example take AGW- yes, we may not be able to say for CERTAIN that AGW is or is not happening but we can be SURE or certain to follow the data wherever it leads- and to design computer simulations that most truly represent predictions- given all of out best knowledge on the subject. So science IS about certainty - even if the only thing we can be certain about is our uncertainty.- but we need to be certain to admit when we are UNCERTANI and NOT pretend to be certain for the sake of politics. Frost122585
The argument that science is about probability, not certainty, only works if you can quantify the degree of uncertainty. Unfortunately, when we are dealing with something as complicated as climate modeling, we are not yet in a position to do this. The following articles may help explain why. Extinction, Climate Change & Modeling Mayhem by Doug Hoffman. Can Global Warming Predictions be Tested with Observations of the Real Climate System? by Dr. Roy Spencer (a climatologist). Another paper I would recommend to readers is A Climate of Belief by Dr. Patrick Frank. In The Skeptic, vol. 14 no. 1. Patrick Frank is a Ph.D. chemist with more than 50 peer-reviewed articles. In his paper, he argues that the claim that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the current warming of Earth climate is scientifically insupportable because climate models are unreliable. vjtorley
Science is about marketing. Again I refer people to the article in the Marketing literature titled "Is Science Marketing?" http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~wstarbuc/Writing/Marketing.htm jerry
Science is about probability, not certainty. lol. Science is neither about probablilty nor is science about certainty. So they are half-right. Mung
They are probably correct. ellijacket
Does this mean we can wait for a retraction of all of the NYT’s “Evolution is a fact, fact fact!” histrionics? It would be a very, very bad idea to hold your breath The headline "Darwin Theory Is Proved True", at the link refers to the discovery of the Piltdown Man. tribune7
Turning blue. Gasp. Nope. Still no retractions... :-) tgpeeler

Leave a Reply